Marriage Following Divorce

Since 2002 it has been possible for people who have previously been married and divorced, and whose former spouse is still living, to marry within the Church of England. In November 2002, the House of Bishops issued Advice to Clergy concerning the procedure to be followed when one of the applicants for a marriage licence is a divorced person with a former spouse still living.

The General Synod Office has produced for enquiring couples a Form and Explanatory Statement concerning marriage in church after divorce. In future, when a couple wish to apply for a Common Licence, if one of them is a divorced person with a former spouse still living, the minister concerned should interview the couple, in accordance with the Advice to Clergy, and ask the couple to complete the Form and Explanatory Statement. The completed form should be submitted with the application for a Common Licence to the Diocesan Registrar, who will seek the advice of the Bishop. Alternatively, the minister may write directly to the Bishop, while the couple wishing to marry make their application for a Common Licence to the Registrar. The Registrar will then wait for the Bishop’s approval before issuing the Licence.

Whilst parishioners normally have the right to be married in the parish church of the parish where they live, a priest is entitled by law to refuse to remarry a divorced person in church whilst the former spouse is still living.